Over the past 24 hours there have been two things that have made me pause to think about how much has changed with the world in my lifetime. Things that never changed for my grandparents for decades have changed within years for me.
For example, yesterday Sears announced it would close 72 stores, including one that anchored a suburban shopping mall near where I live. As the director of media relations for Syracuse University’s Martin J. Whitman School of Management, of course I facilitated interviews for local media with one of our professors who is expert in the field of supply chain and retail. As he explained Sears’ demise, he harkened back to the way it used to be. Sears was “the Amazon of its time,” he said in one interview. Wow. The Amazon of its time? But, yeah, think about it.
People ordered EVERYTHING from their Sears catalogs starting in the 1800s. Houses, cars, tools, farm supplies, clothing, you name it. Kind of like how we interact with the Amazon giant today. But, even when I was a kid, I remember Sears being the place my parents bought so many things from appliances to clothing to tools. We were in there all the time. We even used to have our cars repaired there or tires put on. So many things from just that one store.
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I have a refrigerator and stove from Sears and possibly our washer/dryer, too, although they were a housewarming gift. What’s more? I actually visited a Sears store a few weeks ago to purchase a First Communion dress for my daughter. In fact, I am a big fan of Sears for children’s dress clothes. It’s the only place I’ve ever been able to find a suit that fits Christopher well and looks appropriate for Easter Mass.
This morning, on the way home from the gym, Big D and Bubba, a country radio show, based in Nashville, Tennessee, discussed another thing of the past – paper boys. One of the DJ’s explained that his teenaged son was up early and saw a car driving very slowly, then stopping, then driving then stopping. He was concerned and asked what the car could possibly be doing. His father, said, “Delivering the newspaper.” The son had NO idea that was a “thing.”
It was a “thing.” I remember receiving two newspapers a day – one in the morning, the Post-Standard, and one in the evening, the Herald-Journal. The Herald-American came on Sundays. We got them all at my house and I read them religiously. It’s where we got all our news. There was no internet (yes, I was alive when there was no internet).
What’s more, there was a newspaper delivery person, usually a boy but it could also be a girl, who delivered the newspapers to special plastic boxes hanging under mailboxes, because you couldn’t put the newspaper in the mailbox. It used to be the job of one of the kids in my house to go “get the paper.” The delivery person, who we called the “paper boy,” since it was always a boy in my experience, also came weekly to collect payment for the papers. He’d ring the doorbell and say “Collecting!” It was a huge treat as a kid to be able to give him the money and get the tiny stamp-like receipt in return.
Nowadays the paper still comes, but only a few times a week, plus Sundays. And you pay online, not in person at your front door. In my lifetime, I’m watching print newspapers all but disappear. But in my grandparent’s lifetime, all they knew was newspapers. Imagine that pace of change exponentially accelerating as the years go by.
Anyway, it made me nostalgic for the way things used to be. I mean, there was an extra side job for a kid, delivering papers, that doesn’t exist anymore. They even got tipped when they came to collect! The responsibility that bred in young people was so valuable to them. Nowadays, I find it difficult to find a teenaged babysitter who is willing to and responsible enough for the job. What we had as responsibilities as teens in the 1980s is so different from what the teens have now.
It’s fascinating to see change happen before your eyes and valuable to look back and think about the past. Wine is a great way to sit back and ruminate on days gone by. I think a good choice is what we enjoyed on Memorial Day, Clean Slate Riesling. It’s an old standby and a traditional Riesling, but it allows you to start again or think anew. Best of both worlds.
What do you remember from your past? Comment below and cheers!